Augmented Reality and the Future of Social Interactiona

Jessica Lamb, a student at Georgetown University pursuing a Master’s degree in Communication, Culture & Technology asks:

If we are more easily able to find information about things and people around us — how do you think that might change the way we interact with people when we rely more and more on computers to deliver information we used to rely on people for?

Do you think that easier access to information will help or hinder meaningful social interactions? Will it create a bigger gap between people who can leverage virtual communications to widen their social network and those who are more reclusive? Do you think AR is more likely to expand or shrink the majority of people’s social networks?

Like many other technologies, scifi grade augmented reality can have both a positive and negative effect on one’s social life. Reclusive people will find the loss of anonymity a real threat, making them even more reclusive. On the other hand, friendly people will find more people to befriended with, and common interests with strangers.
Some will think of AR as a wonderful technology that transfers all the advantages of cyberspace to the real world, and for others, it will bring the dangers.

And yet, Jessica (and yours truly) are interested in your opinion on the subject. Be a science fiction author for a day and share your thoughts in the comments.

7 Responses

  1. I posed a related question to this topic. Basically, I wonder in which ways can AR (rooted in a history of ‘fascination in the spectacle) can change perspectives and our social and signiying practices. Will augmented reality also enrich our understanding of the world?

    I think whether AR will have a positive or negative effect will depend on accessibility, the kind of content AR will produce, and how interaction / user experience / emotional interface is designed.

    As with any technology even in these days, the question of who has access and control over should still be asked. Perhaps in more developed countries, adoption to technologies like AR will be faster, but for majority of the world, this won’t be the case. Likewise, if content and user experience is built-in to involve interaction with others, then AR would more likely boost social relations. I guess in the end, it’s a question of how we want to use this technology. And this is why I think it’s important for the ability generate / publish AR content to be popularised and opened for all. What user-generated content did for Web 2.0 would probably do the same for AR.

  2. Communication will fundamental change between humans, absolutely.

    Imagine if, for example, anything you say can dynamically link to any wikipedia artical or definition.

    We would no longer have to exchange much pre-existing knowledge in order to explain ourself, we would more directly be communicating ideas and opinions rather then then knowledge used to back them up.

    Interestingly, you can also just imagine “Citation!” automatically popping up as your talking to someone ;)

    How much harder will it be to…well…be wrong? When anything you say or about too, can be near-instantly checked or cross-checked against multiple sources?

    The other trend will be towards multimedia.
    Speech is linearly, diagrams, illustrations etc are not.

    How will our lives change when we can draw in mid-air ?

    I’m looking at 30-50 years here, so its very long term.
    But Id think it could have quite a massive impact.

    I think the long term effects will be nothing but positive, but it will take multiple generations of “”everything everywhere”” for society to adapt.

  3. Do you know this manga : Dennō Coil ? ( )

    It kinda gives an idea of what could be the future in an immersive AR world.

  4. *grins* @ above post.
    Denno Coil is the definitive near-future world as far as I’m concerned.

    I wont be happy till I’ve got my own Densuke.

  5. And Id love to live in a world where this is possible;


  6. Just over ten years ago (yipes!), I gave a talk at IWAR 99 (the forerunner of ISMAR), at which I described some ways in which ubiquitous mobile AR would change the way in which we interact with each other. Here’s a link to a copy of the paper, “The Importance of Being Mobile: Some Social Consequences of Wearable Augmented Reality Systems”. I recapped some of the more dystopian notions at a panel at EmTech@MIT 2009 a few months ago.

  7. I had always wondered what it would be like wear ar sunglasses and change the landscape/cityscape (especially seeing the vast about of barren sand areas in Dubai). Just finished an article combining some of those thoughts with what would happen if multiple social networks went AR or outdoors.

    Not being a manga follower, I did not know about Denno Coil. Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: